28 Feb 2015


 Leonard Nimoy has passed away at 83. Nimoy was a writer, director, poet, photographer, singer (of sorts) and last, but not least, actor.

He appeared to me to be a gentile man, who was enthusiastic about his work and his fans. Of course he is best know for his iconic role as Spock in Star Trek,  and also for writing one of the readings at my wedding. He may not have had intended that poem for my wedding, but I am sure he would not have minded.

"My folks came to the US as immigrants, aliens, and became citizens. I was born in Boston, a citizen, went to Hollywood and became an alien."

Nimoy seemed to have a certain gravitas and cool that he retained despite who was sharing the screen with. But he was certainly more than a on screen presence. He had a masters degree in Education, and his writing was sensitive and insightful and witty. No doubt a reflection of the man himself.

Here is his final tweet:

A life is like a garden. Perfect moments can be had, but not preserved, except in memory. LLAP

Leonard Nimoy leaves behind a wife, two children, six grand children, and a horde of saddened friends and loyal fans.  

22 Feb 2015

A selection of DVDs

Having just watched episode one of Vikings, (which if you have not watched yet you should) I thought I had better catch up on my blog. 

My lovely lady and I had a night in and watched a few DVDs.  

Calvary (not Cavalry)
Calvary is John McDonagh's new film. He previously wrote and directed The Guard, starring Brendan Gleeson.   I really enjoyed the wit and style of The Guard, and when I saw that McDonagh had a new film starring Brendan GleesonChris O'DowdKelly Reilly, and Dylan Moran, I could not wait to watch this new and clever Irish comedy. 

I was horribly horribly wrong! 

Calvary is dark reflection of modern Ireland. The film takes place in a small Irish coastal town, which is plagued by unemployment, and what businesses remain face the threat of foreclosure by the banks. Gleeson plays Father James, a good priest who struggles to hold  his community together as they question the purpose of the Church in modern times. James is also trying to reconnect with his suicidal daughter. On top of all that a man has threatened to kill him in seven days time. 

Gleeson is excellent, and while his journey is bleak it is still a wonderful film. McDonagh may paint a depressing picture of modern Ireland, but it is still a work of love. The film is highlighted by Ireland's natural beauty, and at it's core Calvary is a film of hope.  But only after great sacrifice. 

I completely recommend it, but do not make the same mistake I did, that just because a film stars an ensemble cast of great comedians, that it is a comedy. I suspect that misreading the title was instrumental.

 Magic in the Moonlight

The most recent film by Woody Allen. With the success and acclaim of Midnight in Paris, Allen's new film is set in the roaring Twenties and stars Colin Firth, and Emma Stone. Firth plays an accomplished stage magician who spends his free time unmasking frauds and spiritualists. His friend Howard comes to him with the tale of a young girl (Stone) who Howard believes might be the real thing. Stanley travels to the south of France to investigate this girl before she marries the son of a wealthy American family. 
No Emma I am not jumping in the bloody fountain. 

Stone and Firth carry this film in their performances. Firth follows Allen's frenetic directing style of leading men well, but remains sympathetic. Firth did a really excellent job, and was the perfect choice as Stanley. The scenes are colourful and romantic and Allen uses the beauty of the South of France to every advantage.  

At it's best Magic in the Moonlight is a light and whimsical romantic comedy that is simple fun. I am not really a fan of Allen's films, and I didn't overly enjoy it. But if you are a fan of Woody Allen, you probably find it charming and fun. Certainly after the heavy drama of Calvary, my lady definitely needed a film like this. 

Dracula Untold

This movie is the origin story of the infamous Count Dracula, before he was a vampire he was a prince. But Dracula Untold  is neither a horror nor a historical film.  Luke Evans plays Prince Vlad Tepes who balances the welfare of his people with the demands of The Ottoman Empire. Young Vlad was taken hostage by the Turks, and raised by them until he returns home. This is of course pretty much true. However there are several departures from the real Vlad Tepes history.

But I am not going to discuss the historical inaccuracies because this is not an historical film. What it is is a simple attempt at an origin story. With such an iconic character the creators were really taking a risk with this story, and I don't think it paid off.  The story was average and undeserving of the real
Vlad, and the Count.

The appeal of this film is solely in its cast. Luke Evans outstripped the script and story as the young prince determined to save his people at any cost, and once his shirt was off, his abilities were obvious. Glib comments aside he really was very good. Charles Dance, who is making the most of his time on Game of Thrones, camps it up with an enjoyable performance as the monster. Dominic Cooper as the evil Turkish prince also looks like he is having fun.

As entertainment it was fine, simple movie fun. The cast were good, the action and cgi effects were entertaining. I imagine that devoted fans of history or Dracula might not agree, but over all it was OK Yes the story was average and could have been much better, and Dracula Untold won't win any Oscars, but if you want to just relax and switch off . and it might keep you from having to watch Jack and Jill  which can only be a good thing.

13 Feb 2015

A fun opportunity


Just letting my reader know a wee bit of news.

I have been invited to review a series of books. Now I don't know much about what I will be reviewing, however I will be reviewing them on a podcast.

The perfect face for Radio

I will give more details later once I know more, and I will post my reviews here. I believe they will be science fiction books, but as I said I will let you know.

I will post some DVD reviews shortly.

And enjoy your Friday the 13th.

image courtesy of www.savagechickens.com

10 Feb 2015

I was told not to.

Yes, I was told not to. I said I wouldn't.  I was told not to again by someone who watched it. 

But then I caved and I watched..

Many of you will be wondering why I watched this. I am not sure I can answer that question. I can only speculate that it was partly curiosity, partly rage, and well, curiosity. 

And here is what I thought. I will try (and fail) not to compare this film to the TMNT canon, and just focus on the movie. But we all know that basically I am weak. 

Oh yes spoilers follow. Well hardly spoilers, I doubt there is much I will be saying that will actually make this movie any worse.

The movie starts off with a poor imitation of the cartoon sequences you have in the Marvel movies and then the movie proper starts where it is revealed that New York is under threat from the secret Ninja 'foot clan'.

Hang on a minute, how secret is this secret Ninja clan if everyone knows about it?  Right moving on. April O'Neil (Megan Fox) is trying to be taken seriously as a reporter. However, her editor (Whoopi Goldberg) just sees her as a pretty face only good for fluff pieces. I imagine Whoopi saw her performance in Transformers 2. 

April still hasn't mastered the selfie yet. 

But April is determined to unmask the Foot clan. Why I don't know as everyone knows about the Foot - they operate in plain sight. In her search for the Foot Clan, and maybe her self esteem, April discovers a super human vigilante who is fighting back against the Foot. April starts to track down the vigilantes, and when she does they introduce themselves straight off the back as mutant teenage turtle ninjas. They also instantly remove their masks?

This is of course the big reveal when we get to see the 2014 Ninja turtles!

No really what the hell? 
Dude that is totally not me!

Lips? LIPS? and what is with the nose and the crazy brows, and their brutish overly muscled bodies, and the lips! They look the twisted love children of Yoda and the Hulk!

This for me is one of the (many, many) problems of the film. It just has no idea who it is aimed at. Is it a kids movie? Well then why is it rated M (in New Zealand at any rate). The story is an over complicated mess, but while the story is a mess it is also lacking in any substance or sophistication for anyone over 10? 

Here is a piece; the Turtles were actually a science experiment of April's father, and she gave them their names, and apparently their color schemes.  When there was a fire in the science lab, she rescued them (and Splinter who looks like Capybara with a mustache), then she dumped them on the street and left them. Presumably this rescue was occurring as her father died in the same fire. 

And lets just ride on past the love story between Mikey and April.  

While Michael Bay only produced this film, you can see his influence. Explosions, more explosions, gratuitous slow motion sequences, explosions, Megan Fox’s arse and stuttered acting, explosions and an overblown chase sequence that is very reminiscent of the action films of the 80’s but just comes across as tired. The action was over the top and typical Bay. We have seen these sorts of sequences time and time again. 

Oh and the final Bayism is that they turned Shredder into Megatron. 

The film is mostly about April, her dad, her career, her ass, and less about the Turtles. The Turtles needed to have more screen time, after all it is about them. 

TMNT is meant to be fun. Even the early comics were essentially fun. They were about a bunch of mutant teenage turtles being martial arts, ninja, crime fighters. They used their skills, team work and heroism to defeat the bad guys. They were not hulked out monsters, who threw shipping containers around. 

I didn't even enjoy the action. The choreography was chunky and boring. Sure the main characters are CGI, but we have the technology in 2014 to do better. 

If you are a fan of the Turtles and want to see them in action. I recommend that you check out the Cartoon from Nickeodeon. 

Otherwise I would avoid this film like an ex-girlfriends/boyfriends text asking if they can come over.  Just say NO!

3 out of ten.